Undulating Periodization for Athletes

Jun 22, 2022

I recently wrote a series of articles for bodybuilding.com on undulating periodization. These articles were well received and to this day remain one the most popular articles I have ever written.

I was asked several times by readers to then develop a similar program for the athlete. Every athlete and indeed every individual is different, but there are some similarities. Most athletes want explosive power and strength -- so use this program as a starting point -- as a template that you can use to tweak your own program. Keep the sequence however that has an explosive Olympic lift and a plyometric exercise at the start.

Let's review the details of undulating periodization:

• Recent published research from Arizona State University has shown that a method of structuring the set and rep protocols in a vastly different manner (called undulating periodization) has proven to be especially effective in inducing maximum strength gains, when compared to traditional linear or alternating Periodization models.

• Traditional thinking states that the body adapts to a workout in as little as 6 exposures. In actuality - the body adapts to the rep range the fastest, and the exercise selection the slowest. So we need to change the rep bracket more often than we change the exercises. Typically a trainee will change the exercises first - not the most effective training system.

• The undulating Periodization program actually adjusts the sets, reps, speed of movement (tempo), and rest period every single workout. So in effect, your body has to grow bigger and stronger than it normally would when using one of the more traditional Periodization models.

• During this phase, train three times per week -- and alternate the workouts. For example -- in week one, you will do Monday : workout A, Wednesday : workout B, Friday : workout A. the next week would be the reverse. However, due to the unique loading parameters, you will actually train each program three times before ever repeating a rep scheme. The fun part is the variety of doing so many different routines. The exciting part is that as you only repeat each workout every 10 days or so, you can stay with this program for longer, and make better and faster gains than you typically would.

Alwyn Cosgrove can be contacted at www.alwyncosgrove.com or www.ResultsFitnessUniversity.com